NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Nearly half a year after the proposals were first made public, Norfolk City Council is hearing in-person pitches from the three development teams vying to transform the current Military Circle Mall.
On Thursday, two groups known as Crossroads Partnership LLC and Norfolk MC Associates LLC each presented to City Council their plans to tear down the aging shopping mall and in its place build everything from entertainment venues to housing.
Both used all they had to hit home why their proposal is superior.
Former NFL star Emmitt Smith opened the presentation for Crossroads Partnership saying “I know we have assembled the best-in-class team to perform and do the work to win Military Circle.”
The team Smith is on also includes SB Ballard Construction Company, ASM Global and Sports Facilities Companies.
Their proposal includes the construction of a sports complex, offices for both Sentara Health and Optima Insurance, a hotel, nearly 1,000 units of multifamily housing, with 100 of those units for affordable housing.
The anchor would be a 15,000-seat arena managed by ASM, a major arena operator.
Chuck Steedman, executive vice president of strategy of ASM Global, touted his company’s already strong relationships within the entertainment and sports industry. ASM manages arenas in which 14 NBA and NHL teams currently call home.
“We aren’t just creating this out of mid-air,” Steedman said. “They want to look at this region, I promise we will be the first people to know about it and we will find a way to work with them.”
The proposal is to be privately financed.
Steve Ballard, president of SB Ballard Construction, said he could get the arena open by May 2026.
“I think everyone in this room knows, I can make this s— happen,” Ballard said.
The proposal stated the entire project would be privately financed, making an opportunity for “African American investors” said Vernon Marrow, president and CEO of the E Smith Legacy.
City Council went into a closed meeting to discuss specific financial information with the Smith and Ballard team.
“We have nothing to hide, we are transparent,” Bruce Thompson, CEO of Gold Key PHR, said several hours later when given the same opportunity.
Thompson, a prominent developer in the region, leads a team looking to bring “The Well” to the Military Circle site.
Thompson’s team which includes Norfolk State University, W.M Jordan and the Miller Group proposes building a Sentara Healthcare “Wellness Village,” a “world-class” recreation center, a grocery store and 864 units of multifamily housing.
Unlike the two other proposals, which propose anchoring the site with an arena, Thompson proposes the anchor be green space with an amphitheater.
He inferred that without a professional sports team, success for failure was high.
“We just felt that would be difficult, difficult. Norfolk would have to provide upwards to $100 million,” Thompson said.
Thompson is asking for new tax revenues on the land to help with financing for nearly three decades.
On Saturday, the City Council will meet with the team led by Pharrell Williams.
A recommended developer is expected to be presented to City Council by spring.